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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Dec 27, 2010 9:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH; Acoustic Explorations on a Theme

So i agree that this can become a chicken or egg type of argument (were they test marketing to focus groups or because of the impromptu performances did they decide to move in an acoustic direction?). I guess i tend to favor the latter for a few reasons but obviously could never prove it.

As i pointed out to jerry's beard, these two shows would kind of make sense for a late arrival from a band member. As you say, the first one was on home turf so they probably were on their own for getting to the gig. The second one was the day after Christmas so i suspect they were traveling separately as they might have been visiting family the day before. So the coincidence is likely due to the season. As for test marketing an acoustic sound, they had already been playing around with the Workingman's material for months so i think it wasn't a huge surprise where they were headed with their sound. I don't think TC's departure was a coincidence based on that as this was clearly not a direction that would have suited his style.

Comparing to what Dylan did when he plugged in is a little bit extreme. He picked about the biggest stage of acoustic music available to try out his new sound. I think he purposely went for a shock and awe approach and the timing was a bit different. By December '70 CSN had played acoustically at Woodstock and other bands were heading in that direction so for the Grateful Dead to do so was not nearly as dramatic as Dylan plugging in at a folk festival.

Definitely go back and check out those Santa Rosa shows. They are amongst my favorite for '69. I personally think the guitar sound of early '69 was starting to get old by the summer and the change was necessary. Even by April the sound starts to get a bit sloppy at times. One of the cooler things about that Santa Rosa show i linked is Casey Jones. I love the intro. Jerry has not worked out the lead part yet so the song has a very different feel.

Finally, you should be careful around here if you are using words like focus groups. That might suggest that the GD were doing things that could be deemed as a business model in the future. Some people get very upset by this suggestion and their mood rings go black.....

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Poster: Reade Date: Dec 27, 2010 11:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH; Acoustic Explorations on a Theme

Your points are well made.
One thing I wasn't suggesting was that this acousitc direction was unique to them, or even surprising or radical in any way. I'd track back even a little farther than CSN or Woodstock. 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' ('68?) blew it all open in terms of giving everyone permission to get back to softer sounding stuff that told stories. Blowing minds with loud, electric, sometimes largely lyric-less tunes was still allowed but becoming increasingly optional. The whole scene was undeniably headed in this general directon. Merl Haggard got popular. Johnny Cash got his own TV show. The Stones do 'Dead Flowers' on Sticky Fingers. You could spend all day plotting pushpins on a map showing how it was all flowing in this direction.

What I was suggesting was that by '69, though relatively early in the game to us now, the band was already perceived as 'The good "ol Grateful Dead.' They had carved out an amazing place in the musical spectrum for themselves with a likewise uniquely rabid following. By wanting to test this stuff perhaps a little gingerly at first was just natural given the loyalty and expectations of their fan base. Even when one fully intends to go swimming in the ocean they sometimes put their toe in the water initially to gauge things.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Dec 27, 2010 11:49am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH; Acoustic Explorations on a Theme

Thanks for bringing up the subject, you happen to hit on two of my favorites from '69 with the Santa Rosa and SMU shows. Aside from being great listens, they are definitely worth discussing because they are great examples of a band starting to head in a new direction and doing it in front of their audience.